Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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Beautiful TN autumn 2015

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When I woke up today to  yet another cloudy, drizzly morning, I thought about my struggle over the past several years with this.  My husband once joked about it saying, “Gaye, do you look out the window in the morning to see what kind of day you’re going to have?” He knew me so well! It was along that time that we started realizing how much the weather affected me.

We began noticing about five years ago that I struggled with depression only in the winter. At first I thought it was the cold weather, but then I realized I was fine with the cold as long as the sun was shining. It was the consecutive cloudy days that got me down.

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God’s little creek He lets me enjoy in front of my house.

I learned there is a name for what I was feeling.  It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  This is described as a depressive disorder with seasonal patterns.   A clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, Norman E. Rosenthal, gave this condition a name in 1984. While this mostly affects people in the fall and winter, in rare cases, it also affects people in the spring and summer.

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My neighbor’s, Catherine and Lee Daugherty’s, beautiful driveway.

The winter symptoms can include social withdrawing, little energy, more sleeping, carbohydrate cravings resulting in more weight gain, and depression.  The spring/summer symptoms are almost the opposite in that along with the depression there is more anxiety, weight loss, and insomnia.

In the United States the percentage of people having this disorder in the winter ranges in Florida from 1.4% to people in Alaska 9.9%.  Since moving to Florida isn’t an option for everyone, unlike my Aunt Penny who braved many winters in Wisconsin before  moving to sunny Florida, I’d like to offer some tips that have helped cheer up many a gloomy day for me.

  • Keep the lights on

I have little lights on my mantle, running along the top of my kitchen cabinets, and on plants throughout the house.  They give a cozy appearance and cheer me up.

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  • Get out in the sun

When the sun does appear, try to soak it up. Even if it is cold, wrap up and absorb some vitamin D. The bright light and warmth helps my mood.

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  • Crank up the fireplace

My husband had grown up having  family Christmas get-togethers at his great Uncle Walter’s house in Georgia.  There was a huge fireplace in this home always burning when he arrived in December.  He never forgot the happy memories made around those cozy fires.  So when we had the opportunity to build an addition to our home in 2007, David designed a rock fireplace similar to his uncles.  During the winter months, we have had a nice fire going most evenings.  I noticed I didn’t dread winter nearly as much after that.

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David and Gaye Hughes 12-18-2012

  • Burn candles

Please forgive me all you fire fighters out there!  I enjoy smelling apple cinnamon or spice candles.  The aroma and little light a candle puts off just cheers me up.  Just be sure you have the candle in a safe place and blow them out before bedtime!

  • Try to cheer up someone else

When I’m not too chipper, the last thing I want to do is give to someone else. When the emotional tank is dry, it is hard to even think about trying to help someone else.  But I have found that when I try to make someone else feel better, I feel better myself.  Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Sometimes that is exactly what it takes to get out of a funk.

  • Exercise

Many people comment that they are too tired to exercise.  I can understand that.  When my husband and I took chemotherapy and radiation, we both felt the effects of exhaustion in a way we had never felt before.  But we both pushed ourselves to take walks when we would have rather rested. As a result, we actually had more energy.  While there is a time to get proper rest, we shouldn’t neglect exercising either. There are some studies that have actually proven that exercising can give you more energy than resting when you are tired.  The results may vary depending on the reasons for your low energy though.

  • Hang a bird feeder

I like to hang bird feeders outside my kitchen windows.  It cheers me up to know I’m feeding our fine feathered friends on cold days.  They are fun to watch. As I watch them I often  think of  Matthew 6:26…

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?

  • Play some soothing music

Saul, in the Old Testament was comforted got in a better mood as a result of David playing the harp.  Good music can have such a positive impact on our mood.

  • Claim God’s promises

God’s Word, The Bible,  can give us strength and motivate us in a way nothing else can.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.

We can’t make the sun shine on a cloudy day. Only God can.  Although it may be dreary looking outside, the Son of God can shine brightly in our hearts. God’s word can do that for us.

Jesus said,

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

We can’t always remove our problems, but we can strive to understand them and do what we can to make the best of things.

I hope this has helped in some way.  I’d love to hear your comments!  Have a sunny day in your heart!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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When You’re Mad at God

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Have you ever been mad at God? Did I hear a gasp?  You may think, “God is love.  He gave His only Son to be crucified for mankind.  How can anyone be mad at Him?” (I John 4:8, John 3:16)

I recently talked with a woman whose father had suddenly been snatched from this life by a massive heart attack.  I was surprised when this woman readily admitted that she was very angry with God.  It wasn’t her anger that surprised me so much as the fact that she recognized it as such and publically confessed it. When I’ve been angry at God, it took me awhile to realize exactly what was going on and then I was embarrassed to tell anyone.

After all, how do you fight your Creator? How do you win a battle with an omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (all present) God? Nevertheless, the feelings are there.

When I’ve been mad at God, my thinking went something like this. If there is a God and He is in control, why didn’t He stop this? If God loves me, why is He allowing all this pain in my life?

 We have to remember that heartache and sorrow entered this world on our watch…not Gods! We live in this world that has a curse on it because of our sin….mine and yours and it was (and still is) our free choice.

God made a perfect paradise for Adam and Eve with scrumptious food, furry gentle animals, and beautiful nature for them to enjoy. God didn’t want humans to be like robots.  He wanted sweet fellowship with Adam and Eve and wanted them to have the same desire to be with Him.  He could have forced them to love Him, but He wanted them to choose to love Him just as He chose to love them.

So although God made lots of luscious fruit trees for Adam and Eve to enjoy, He made just one that He asked them not to eat from. That is the exact tree (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil)  that Satan  tempted Eve to eat of to thwart God’s perfect relationship with her and her husband and God.

When she and Adam disobeyed God, sin entered the world.  God then asked them to leave the Garden of Eden, lest they eat of the tree of life and forever be in their sinful state. (Genesis 3:22) Because God is holy, He could not let sin go unaddressed.  God’s punishment of death was actually an act of mercy.  Would you really want to live in a sin cursed world forever?  I wouldn’t.  God cared too much to allow Adam and Eve to live forever in this sinful condition.

Is it a horrible thing to be angry with God? Actually, I think there are at least a few positive things to be said about it.

First of all, one can’t be angry with someone they don’t believe exist.  So the fact that feelings are directed toward God means you believe there really is a God.

Second of all, if you are angry with God, you believe He has the power to change things. You may be upset and not agree with what He has done or allowed, but you do believe He is in charge.

As a parent, I have never enjoyed disciplining my children.  It is much easier to ignore or excuse their disobedience than to address it.  But the reason I haven’t taken the easier route is because I have high expectations of a successful future for them because I love them and that means more to me than their present happiness or how much they like me.

God sees the big picture.  He wants the best for His children.  No pain, no gain.  If I understand my Bible correctly, one of God’s purposes for my life is for me to have the opportunity to make preparations for my eternal life.

Unfortunately, it usually takes the school of hard knocks to get the desired results. I know it does for me!  It takes the fire to burn the dross away so I can get my priorities right.  It often takes tough times to get us to think about how we are living and what and who we are living for.

If you find yourself mad at God, it may not be all bad.  The important thing is to tell God how you feel.  He already knows it, but it will help you to admit it. Ask Him to forgive you and help you trust that He knows best. Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn through the trials you are experiencing. Whatever you do, don’t give up on God, because He hasn’t given up on you.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Birthdays in Heaven?

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Celebrating David’s 50th birthday October 20, 2013

Have you ever wondered if there are birthdays in heaven? I have always enjoyed celebrating birthdays. It is a special time to let people know how much I love them. It is a happy time to celebrate life.

On my children’s birthdays I usually think back to the day they were born and how special it was to finally meet them in person. After many months of anticipation, I was able to hold them for the first time and be in awe of one of God’s greatest blessings in my life.

Today is David’s first birthday in heaven.  Could it be that God had similar feelings about David… His child, entering heaven, as we do when our children enter this world?  I realize we don’t think like God does, but we are made in His image so it could be possible.

I wonder if they are celebrating his birthday in heaven.  But would  it not be more appropriate to celebrate the first day he entered heaven (the place he was created for) on March 11, 2015? After all, the work of David’s life had just been completed! He had fought a good fight and finished the race.  The battle had been won thanks to Jesus and His work on the cross.  David’s faith had become sight!

And because David had put his faith and trust in Jesus, I think he heard Jesus say,
Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

2 Peter 3:8 says,
that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

So I wonder if there is just one long day of rejoicing and celebrating because of who God is and what Jesus has done and who we will be when we finally enter heaven….a saint of God, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, complete, and without sin.

Had Jesus been anticipating David’s arrival in heaven since his birth 51 years ago?  Was Jesus just as excited to welcome David into heaven as David was to be there? Many times David said he couldn’t wait to feel Jesus’ arms around him, hugging him tight. I believe David is enjoying lots of good hugs now.

We are so happy here when a baby is born.  And we are sad when our loved ones move to their real home in heaven…and rightly so because we miss them.  But God doesn’t see it as we do.

When we enter this world by birth, we enter a place of unrest, trouble, and pain. But when we enter the next world (heaven) by death, we enter a place of perfect peace, where all is well. God understands this much better than we do.

Psalm 116:15 says,
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says,
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

Job 5:7 says,
…man is born unto trouble,

In Philippians 1:21, Paul said,
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul would live for Christ while he was on this earth, but he said it would be even better when he died and was with Jesus.

My great grandfather lived within a few days of turning 101 years old.  But I’ll bet if we had asked him if he felt like he had lived a long time, he probably would have said life had gone by pretty quickly.  Even if we live 100 years, our time on earth is not very long compared to eternity.

Psalm 90:10 says,
The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70 years); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, (80) yet in their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Sometimes life seems to go by slowly for us here, but James 4:14 says,

For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

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David Hughes October 20, 2013

I hope this blog isn’t discouraging.  Many people don’t like to think about this life being short or the fact that death is imminent.  It is easier and  happier to think about the good things in this world, especially if you’re not sure where you stand with God.

But the Bible has a lot to say about what happens after this life.  Whether we like to think about it or believe it or not, the facts remain the same.  Jesus spent a lot of time urging people to prepare for life after this world.

Personally, I love thinking about seeing Jesus for the first time and seeing David again.  It fills me with hope and helps me get through the tough days here. Jesus said,

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to  prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. I (Jesus) am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14: 1-4, 6)

If I had spent years preparing a gift for someone I loved, I would be beside myself with excitement to finally be able to present it to them and see their reaction! Jesus has worked on heaven for at least a couple thousand years.  We cannot even imagine what God has in store for those of us who have made Jesus Lord of our lives. I Corinthians 2:9 says,

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.

So even though my heart aches at David’s absence, I’m thankful the Lord gave us 25 years together here and that we will have all eternity together.  I will miss baking his favorite chocolate cake  and singing “Happy Birthday” to him today, but  I know he is having a grand time right now and living like he never has before.

Happy Birthday David,

Gaye Hughes

P.S.  David and I had a 25 year running discussion on what a chocolate cake was.  He said his favorite cake was a chocolate one, but it was actually a yellow cake with chocolate icing. My argument was that a chocolate cake was brown and had chocolate in it and the cake is  named according to its flavor, not the frosting. Neither of us ever convinced the other. I guess we can continue this debate in heaven.  🙂

 

Where Do You Stand?

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I was at the event, One Day of Hope, in Manchester, Tennessee. This is a yearly event where the surrounding churches come together to provide for many needs in the community. Medical and dental services are provided along with lots of clothes, bags of groceries, hair cuts, family photos, hot meals, etc. and everything is free. It is such a blessing to see so many various churches work together to show God’s love to others.

The volunteers began working a few hours before the recipients arrived to make preparations. I noticed a line started forming outside the gate an hour before the doors were scheduled to open. It occurred to me that the only thing that separated those receiving from those giving was a chain length fence.

I thought of a few of the thousands of possible reasons why one person would be on one side of the fence verses the other side. It could be as simple as the family one was born into. Maybe it was a job opportunity afforded verses one that was not. It could be the result of a critical decision.

I was humbled to have the privilege to be on the giving side of the fence today. It has been no merit of my own. God has abundantly blessed me much more than I could ever deserve.  The Creator of the universe has extended grace and mercy to me when I have acted foolishly and not sought His will as I should have.

I could easily find myself on the other side of the fence next year. This life is full of uncertainties. But whichever side of the fence we find ourselves on, we can count on God’s promises. One of them is found in Philippians 4:19 which says,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ

Jesus.

Also, more important than which side of the fence we are on is where we stand in our relationship with God. Are we depending on Him or what we have? Are we trusting in our Savior or our riches? Are we content and thankful for what we have or always wanting more? Do we love our things, more than we love God? What or Who do we spend most of our time thinking about?

May we whole-heartedly make King David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 our own.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

To Forgive or not forgive?

 

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Abigail, Bethany, and Anna August 2011

 

Relationships…you can’t get away from them and you wouldn’t want to if you could…in most cases. But what about those hard cases that take way more emotional energy than the personal benefits received?

I have often wondered why some people make me feel like an angel while others make me feel like the devil himself. I am the same person.  Sometimes I feel the horns begin to poke out of my head while around some people.  Just when I begin to think I might be a decent person,  I’m appalled at my impatience, the anger that so quickly and easily arises, and the sarcasm that would love to leap from my tongue. Isn’t it strange? I hope I’m not alone here, but at the same time, I sincerely hope I am.

I have spent hours, days, months, and sometimes years pondering the mysteries of some of my relationships and why they are so complicated. I’ve tried to dig down to the root of this problem for much longer than I’d like to admit.  It is humbling that I haven’t been able to come up with better answers more quickly.

Although I have some answers, I’ve concluded that the reason this is so complex is because there are a lot of variables. God’s creativity in the thousands of different personalities is mind boggling to me.  A person’s environment can vary tremendously and who can say what effect that has on us. Then you must consider past hurts and offenses, emotional childhood scars of others and the more obvious components of pride, selfishness, manipulation and control factors.

I’ve read several books over the years trying to understand this phenomenon. The world advises us to write people off when  they are making life too inconvenient.  They are baggage we don’t need when life is tough enough on the best of days. Have you been tempted to end relationships like this? I have. Have you had “friends” that just want to use you as a sounding board to vent their problems and never care to make changes to improve their relationships, much less ask you how you are doing? I have. And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of acting just as selfishly with others.

As Christians do we even have the option of giving up on people?  And what exactly does that even mean? I believe it is refusing to forgive them. When I’ve been tempted to write someone off it was because I felt like they had just gone too far in offending me or it had happened one too many times. In essence, I just did not want to forgive them.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asked Jesus how many times must he forgive a brother that offended him. Peter thought seven times should be enough. (I can SO relate!) But Jesus came back with an answer I’m sure Peter didn’t like. Jesus said 490 times! I think the point Jesus was making that we should forgive every time and not keep a record of them. (I Corinthians 13 talks about not keeping a record of offenses.)

This is one of those tough commandments of Jesus where the rubber really meets the road in life. It separates the believers from the Christ followers. It helps us realize how serious we are about living out our faith.

When you read these passages of Scripture you will notice is doesn’t mention if the offender asks for forgiveness or is repentant.   Does that matter?  Well, it sure makes a huge difference if you are the one being offended! How many times would you gladly forgive if the person would humbly come to you, apologize for his actions, and ask forgiveness? That makes a HUGE difference! But we all know people who rarely if ever do that.  And some are so prideful and self-centered they never think they are at fault.  But as believers, we need to forgive them anyway and let God take care of correcting them.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine;  I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. (Proverbs 20:22)

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time:  for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. (Deuteronomy 32:35)

But before we get too excited about God punishing them for offending us, let’s remind ourselves of what Proverbs 24:17,18.

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 5:46 and 47 that if they just love those who love them, they aren’t any better than the tax collectors of the day. If we are Christ followers, our relationships should be better than the average ones in our society.

And if none of these can persuade or motivate us to forgive when we’ve been offended, Jesus seals the deal in Matthew 6:14, 15.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We can’t control what others say and do or how they respond to our apologies.  And we won’t have to give an account for them.  But we can control our responses and we will stand before God one day and give an account of our actions and responses.  That is a sobering thought and one that should motivate us to live by the book…God’s book, the Holy Bible.

Sometimes I think it is wise to put some distance between ourselves and people who habitually sin against others in their words and actions. However, for myself, the problem has never been abuse as much as my own pride and unwillingness to forgive. I Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us what real love looks like.

Love…

  •  suffers long with people
  • is kind
  • is patient
  • doesn’t brag
  • isn’t arrogant
  • isn’t rude
  • isn’t selfish
  • isn’t easily provoked
  • thinks the best of others
  • isn’t happy about sin
  • rejoices in the truth
  • bears all things
  • believes all things
  • hopes all things
  • endures all things
  • it never fails

I’d like to hear your thoughts  on this blog. When you write a comment, it will ask for your email address so I can approve it. I will be watching my email closely to do that so your comments will appear.

I hope you have a blessed day and that your relationships blossom!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

P.S.  Here are a few books that have helped me…

Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People by Elizabeth B. Brown

People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle

 

 

Anticipation!

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David Hughes, as we were about to board a puddle jumper to Eleuthera, Bahamas. September 2011

Airplanes and flying have always fascinated me. I even considered being a flight attendant at one time. I’ve only flown a handful of times and while it was exciting to me, it was also scary.

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Flying to Nassau, Bahamas September 2011

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I enjoy observing how differently people behave in the exact circumstances. When I boarded a plane a few months ago, I was like a kid getting on a big roller coaster at Disney World. It had been a few years since I had flown and I was pretty excited, but also nervous.

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I was expecting to be able to sit next to my cousin, but she had to sit across the aisle. So I got squished in the middle seat between two young men. The one with the awesome window seat had his ear buds in, reading a book. He was obviously a seasoned flyer. I wanted to strike up a conversation, but he was clearly not interested. So I started talking to the other guy. We freely talked about what was going on in our lives and spiritual matters. I said good-bye feeling like I was richer for having met him.

Recently, I found myself in the airport again. I was waiting to meet my daughter, Anna. I asked someone where the closest place for me to wait for those exiting the plane would be. I hadn’t seen her in a month and I was almost giddy with excitement at seeing her round the corner. I kept my eye on the hallway where I knew she would enter. Every time I heard footsteps, I wondered if it was her.

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My oldest daughter, Anna Vara and me. 10/03/15

As I stood there waiting, I thought of II Timothy 4:8

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

I asked myself, “Gaye, do you look this anxiously for Jesus to come back?” Honestly, I do not. But I can say, I do a thousand times more now than I used to. I long to be in heaven with David… my best friend for 25 years, my husband, and the father of our four children. I long to see Jesus face to face and be where there is no physical or emotional pain, sickness, or sorrow…where all is well forever more.

For most of my life, I have enjoyed the daily benefits and blessings that the Lord loaded me with that I wasn’t in any hurry to see Jesus come back. As I look around at the terrible mess our world has become, I long for heaven. But God is still very good and I don’t deserve His many blessings in my life.

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:22-25)

Just as we anticipate the good things in this life, let us not forget the great things in the next life. May we be ready and looking for that day of Jesus’ return. For He promised,

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Do You Have What it Takes?

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I heard a sobering message Sunday about how to determine if you have what God requires for entry into heaven. It was a powerful message with a loving and bold delivery.  I would like to share the notes I took while Ken Freeman spoke.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (II Corinthian 13:5a)

I’m going to give you a faith test. God doesn’t grade on a curve. He grades on the cross. You can give your time, tithe, talents, etc., but God wants you….your heart. If I am behaving like an unbeliever, maybe I am an unbeliever. If I have been redeemed, then I need to act like it. Failed means disqualified. When it comes to going to heaven, you either are or you are not.

Matthew 7:21-23 is a scary passage. Jesus said,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then shall I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What is missing in these people’s lives? It is clear that they thought they knew Jesus and would go to heaven. It is obvious that they believed in God. But James 2:19 says,

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

So just believing there is a God isn’t enough. But they were trying to work for God. They even cast out demons and did many good works. That is note worthy. What was missing?

If I claim to know God and be a Christ follower then 5 things must have happened.

1- The Holy Spirit should have initiated my salvation.

The Holy Spirit has to be involved in the saving of a soul. Jesus said in John 6:44,

No man come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

In John 16:1-8 Jesus said it was necessary that He leave so that He could send the Holy Spirit to the believers. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Many people later begin to doubt their salvation because they stop obeying God’s word or quit working for God. But we can’t effectively “do” for God without the Holy Spirit’s help.

2- You have to realize you are lost.

Being lost means without a Saviour, unable to help myself, and spiritually ruined. There are a lot of unbelievers who are better people than Christians. They are moral. But Romans 3:10, 23 says,

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

3- You have to have saving faith.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:16)

If we make sin a habit and regularly practice sin and aren’t convicted of that, we are not saved.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

God gives us faith to believe.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When there is true saving faith, there will be…

  1. A change of mind.   We will think differently.
  2. A change of direction. We won’t walk (live) as the world does.
  3. A change of purpose. Our reason for living will be for God…not ourselves.

4- Without repentance there is no salvation.

If there ain’t no fruit, there ain’t no root. Jesus said we would be able to know who the believers are by their fruit. (Matthew 7:16) Paul told the Corinthians in 7:10

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For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

A worldly sorrow is when we are just sad or ashamed of getting caught in our sin. When there is a godly sorrow, it will cause us to ask forgiveness and we will hate that sin and turn from it.

5- Not guilty. Forgiven forever.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins, (Acts 5:31)

Did you pass the test? Did you get 4 out of 5? If you don’t have all 5, you fail. Most people get hung up on 1 and 4. They make a decision to accept Christ, but the Holy Spirit is not involved. They know the truth in their head, but they aren’t convicted in their heart. Or they are convicted in their heart of their sin and need for a Savior while they believe Jesus came and died for them, but there is no repentance. There is no turning from their sin and self-will to an act of obedience to God and His will.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:3)

We can’t trust our gut feelings. We must obey the rules of the One who is doing the judging.  Let us examine ourselves to see where we truly stand with God.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

I did what?

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The other day my friend was telling me how touching it was to hear someone remind her of a thoughtful thing she had done nine years ago. She had given a Bible to a friend in trouble. His response at the time was that he didn’t care and didn’t want it. She urged him to just take it anyway…that it wouldn’t hurt to just have it. She didn’t even remember this happening. He had taken it and eventually picked it up and started reading it. It changed his life. Romans 12:10 says,

Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor giving preference to one another.

My friend does random acts of kindness on a regular basis. I’m not surprised she didn’t remember doing this because it has become second nature for her to be thoughtful and helpful to others.

In Matthew 25, Jesus was telling his disciples that there would be a time when He would welcome people into heaven and tell them when He had been hungry they had fed Him. When He had been thirsty, they had given Him something to drink. They had taken Him in when He was a stranger, clothed Him, visited Him when He was sick, and visited Him in prison. These people, not remembering this, will ask when they did these things.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

I wonder if I’ll be one of those people. Will my life be so full of helping others that there will be lots of deeds I’m reminded of that I have forgotten about? I sure hope so. This thought motivates me to take every opportunity I can to help ease the suffering in this world. It doesn’t even have to cost me financially or even “put me out” in a big way. It can be as simple as not thinking about myself long enough to reach out to another person. In Matthew 10:42 Jesus says,

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The day after my friend told me this, I saw a young homeless girl at a stop sign. At first I wondered if I gave her money if she would spend it on drugs and only make matters worse for herself. But then I thought about the verse above and decided to take the risk. I gave her some money with some Bible verses about Jesus’ love for her.

As I drove away, I thought about how the Lord had blessed me with a home and plenty of food to eat. I wished I could have taken her with me. I would tell her about Jesus, make her a hot meal, let her take a hot shower, and give her a bed to sleep in. And maybe I should have.

It’s hard trying to use discernment about to what extent do we help without putting ourselves in danger. But then I wonder if I’m most concerned about my safety or just too selfish to bother with someone else and their problems. It’s almost always easier to throw money at people than it is to “put myself out” for them. I wonder if the Good Samaritan in the Bible thought about this as he helped the beaten victim on the side of the road in Luke 10:30-37.

One thing is for sure…Jesus said every kind, selfless deed we do will be rewarded by Him if we do it with the right motive. Our deeds will be judged one day and those done because of our love for God and others are promised to be rewarded. (I Corinthians 3:13-15)

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work endures which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.

May we all be sensitive to the needs of others and be willing to reach out and extent the same love of Jesus that has so graciously been given to us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.                 (Psalm 139:23, 24)

Keep looking us,

Gaye Hughes

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Bethany, Nathan, and I after running the Mayberry 10k in Mt. Airy, NC. November 11, 2013